Overview

You might have heard about a new way of providing services called the 'gig economy', also called the 'on-demand' economy.

Put simply, it’s when we use technology to match people that need work done with people who want to do that work.

It has become a big part of how we live. Australians use apps or go online to have food delivered, get a ride somewhere, or book a neighbour to mow their lawns.

Some people say that the on-demand economy gives workers freedom and choice to decide how and when to work. Others suggest that it also improves services for consumers and helps businesses to reach more customers.

But there are also some concerns over whether people in the gig economy are being paid enough, whether the work is safe, or whether there are adequate protections for workers.

The Victorian Government has set up the Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce to consider all of these matters.

The Inquiry has called for submissions from a wide range of participants in the sector. It has encouraged interested parties to provide evidence, examples and case studies to support their submissions.

These submissions have now been published, after being reviewed for legal and privacy reasons.

The Inquiry is also hosting discussions with businesses, unions and workers.

The Inquiry will use this information to make a report to the Victorian Government about its findings by 31 March 2020.


Survey reveals true size of Australia's on-demand workforce

18 June 2019

Australia’s largest ever published survey regarding on-demand work shows that 7.1 per cent of respondents are working through a digital platform or have done so in the past 12 months.

The survey of more than 14,000 people was commissioned by the Victorian Government to support its Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce. While there has been much debate about the gig economy, until now little has been known about its size or the characteristics of the workforce.

The survey was carried out by researchers from Queensland University of Technology, the University of Adelaide and University of Technology Sydney.

The sample of people surveyed represented the Australian population by age, gender and location. The preliminary findings provide insight into the size of the gig economy and the people working within it.

Download the report of the survey's preliminary findings here:

Digital Platform Work in Australia - Preliminary Findings


Natalie James highlights themes from Inquiry submissions at Youth Summit 2019

5 April 2019

One theme emerging from the submissions to the Inquiry into the On-demand Workforce has been the value of flexibility and the capacity for on-demand work to meet a diverse range of personal needs and lifestyles, said Inquiry chair Natalie James at the Victorian Youth Summit 2019 in April.

She explained that some submissions noted that there are low barriers to entry for some parts of this sector, and suggested the gig economy can provide options for young people struggling to find paid work through traditional employment arrangements.

However, she said submissions have also highlighted the effects on individual workers – such as insecure work, or the lack of superannuation and leave.

Download the full transcript of Natalie James’s speech here:

Natalie James, keynote speech, Victorian Youth Summit 2019

Natalie James, chair of the Inquiry

The Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce is chaired by Natalie James.

Natalie James is also a partner at Deloitte, where she works with businesses to help them create fairer and more positive workplaces.

Natalie was Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman for five years, from 2013-2018. As Ombudsman, she led public debate about whether businesses are obeying work laws in Australia.

Natalie also has experience working for the federal government. Before she became Ombudsman, she was Chief Counsel at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and oversaw the development of workplace laws such as the Fair Work Act.

In 2018, the Council of Small Business named Natalie as a Small Business Champion for her work helping businesses to understand and obey complex work laws.

The Inquiry and the Chair are supported by a Secretariat provided by Industrial Relations Victoria.

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry are as follows:

To inquire into, consider and report to the Minister for Industrial Relations on:

A. The extent and nature of the on-demand economy in Victoria, for the purposes of considering its impact on both the Victorian labour market and Victorian economy more broadly, including but not limited to:

I. the legal or work status of persons working for, or with, businesses using online platforms;

II. the application of workplace laws and instruments to those persons, including accident compensation, payroll or similar taxes, superannuation and health and safety laws;

III. whether contracting or other arrangements are being used to avoid the application of workplace laws and other statutory obligations; and

IV. the effectiveness of the enforcement of those laws.

B. In making recommendations, the Inquiry should have regard to matters including:

I. the capacity of existing legal and regulatory frameworks to protect the rights of vulnerable workers;

II. the impact on the health and safety of third parties such as consumers and the general public, for example, road safety;

III. responsibility for insurance coverage and implications for State revenue;

IV. the impacts of on-demand services on businesses operating in metropolitan, regional or rural settings;

V. regulation in other Australian jurisdictions and in other countries, including how other jurisdictions regulate the on-demand workforce;

VI. Australia’s obligations under international law, including International Labour Organization Conventions;

VII. the limitations of Victoria’s legislative powers over industrial relations and related matters and the capacity to regulate these matters; and

VIII. the ability of any Victorian regulatory arrangements to operate effectively in the absence of a national approach.

Submissions

The Inquiry received submissions (including some supplementary submissions) from more than 90 people and organisations, including workers, unions, businesses and academics.

Most of the submissions have been published below.

If a submitter requested that their submission be partially confidential, the confidential parts of the submission have not been published.

If a submitter requested that the submission be wholly confidential, the submission has not been published.

Text has been redacted in some submissions to remove personally identifying details, and to comply with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic).

Text from some submissions has been redacted to remove potentially defamatory material.

The views stated in the submissions published are those of the authors of each submission and not the Inquiry, the chair of the Inquiry or of the Victorian Government.